UK has 'run dry' on weapons to send to Ukraine: Military official
A senior military chief tells The Telegraph that the UK has run out of military equipment to send to Ukraine, raising the alarm regarding a flurry of funding and sourcing issues.
The United Kingdom has been depleted of weapons to send to Ukraine, an unnamed senior British military official told The Telegraph.
The senior official told the newspaper that the UK should not be obligated to send billions worth of military aid to Kiev, responding to a previous unanswered request of the former Minister of Defense, Ben Wallace.
Wallace had asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to spend an additional 2.3 billion pounds to aid Ukrainian forces, stressing that the country had been overtaken by Germany as the second-largest backer to Ukraine, trailing the United States.
"Giving billions more doesn’t mean giving billions of British kit," the official told The Telegraph, adding that the UK has played a role in persuading other NATO and its allies "to give more money and weapons" to Ukraine.
Western backers struggle to meet conflict's demands
They warned that the UK has "given away" just as much as it "can afford," as Kiev's "counteroffensive" drags on resulting in large losses in military equipment and increased consumption of ammunition which has further burdened Western funders and manufacturers.
The senior official emphasized that Ukraine's urgent requirements include air defense assets and artillery ammunition. This need has been a persistent challenge for Ukrainian forces who grapple with the difficulties of sourcing ammunition for Soviet-era weapons, compounded by Western manufacturers struggling to keep up with increased demand.
Pressure on NATO and its allies is a consequence of both increased usage, the destruction of systems due to the ongoing conflict, and Ukrainian dependence on artillery and long-range missiles to cover up for a stagnating ground advance.
However, what is alarming about the senior officials' comments to the British newspaper is that the UK has run out of the aforementioned assets to send to Ukraine.
"We will continue to source equipment to provide for Ukraine, but what they need now is things like air defence assets and artillery ammunition and we’ve run dry on all that," the official said.
No more Challenger tanks for Ukraine
The defense official stressed that the UK is unable to aid the UK with more main battle tanks, adding that every tank the country sends to Kiev is one less it has.
The official emphasized that the UK needs its Challenger 2 main battle tanks as the centerpiece of a development project aimed at upgrading the country's armored vehicles.
"The Challenger 2s that we have will become Challenger 3. We need them to upgrade them to become Challenger 3. Every tank we give away is one less that we have."
The UK has sent 14 of its top-of-the-line tanks to the frontlines. According to reports, the UK only owns 157 Challenger tanks, a prized asset of its armed forces.
"We’ve given away pretty much everything we can afford to give."
Unnamed UK senior military chief
Troubles in Capitol Hill spread unease in the West
Following Wallace's comments, Sunak was pushed to reiterate his government's commitment to Kiev, saying that the UK's support to Ukraine will not "waver".
However, the bigger picture tells a different story. The recently passed US stopgap budget has seen the exclusion of a $6 billion aid package to Ukraine, as members of Congress looked to avoid a government shutdown on Saturday.
The Pentagon has raised the alarm over the unallocated funds, saying that Ukraine's "counteroffensive" is at risk if US aid is not sent to Ukraine.
In a letter to Congress obtained by AP, the Pentagon warned that funds designated to replace weapons sent to Ukraine are dwindling, revealing that resupply efforts for some troops are already being impeded.
Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord has detailed the financial strain, indicating that out of the $25.9 billion initially allocated by Congress to replenish US military stocks supporting Ukraine, only $1.6 billion remain. Additionally, the available budget for providing weapons and equipment from existing stockpiles has diminished to approximately $5.4 billion.
Slovakia and Poland expand the cluster
The EU’s top foreign diplomat Josep Borrell told reporters in Kiev ahead of a European foreign ministers meeting in Kiev that, "We are facing an existential threat. Ukrainians are fighting with all their courage and capabilities, and if we want them to succeed we must give them better weapons, and faster."
Borrell also hoped that the decision to cut US funds to Ukraine would be reversed, as the continent faces its own issues on the Ukrainian topic.
To add to Ukraine's ails, Poland announced that it would stop providing Kiev with weapons. This coincides with the rise of the leftist opposition party Smer, led by Robert Fico, to power in Slovakia.
"Both Poland and Slovakia were among the best supports to Kiev in the EU. The Slovak vote might be considered later as the turning point in the conflict, even if the decision to stop supporting Ukraine is mostly symbolic," Belgian military expert Pierre Henrot told Sputnik.
Slovakia has been a generous provider of arms — including advanced hardware such as fighter jets and air defenses — to Ukraine since the war broke out. The country also served as a hub for the transport of weapons provided by NATO members to Kiev and a maintenance station for military equipment damaged in the war. If Fico forms a government in Slovakia, Ukraine looks to lose a strategic partner further hindering military aid to the country.